Test drive Audi A8: back to the future

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First production car in the world to achieve level 3 autonomous driving

Actually, an assistant for fully autonomous driving in traffic jams at speeds up to 60 km / h will appear at a later stage. In the new A8 55 TFSI, which was tested during the first tests of the model in Valencia, there was still only an unmarked rectangle located between the parking assistant control button and the driver assistance system control button.

On the left is the engine start button, on the right is the volume control. When a real function button appears on a still empty space, pressing it allows the car to move completely independently at a speed of up to 60 km / h on a road with good markings both in traffic jams and in a convoy. In other words, A8 will be able to carry out these activities where permitted by law.

Test drive Audi A8: back to the future

However, we are still part of those people who are interested in cars, not just electronics and computer technology. And the A8 definitely has something to show for its flagship role in the lineup. Audi.

Technologically, the model is completely revolutionary. The new design language features a wider Singleframe front grille, a lower body silhouette and a wider rear, accentuated by a light stripe and chrome trim.

And yet: in the eyes of most people, the car looks like a big Audi - not many will immediately recognize it as a completely new model. Which doesn't really change the fact that the A8 is an elegant and stylish car.

Designer Daniel de Jong emphasizes that recognition of this car as a representative of the four-ring brand was key in its creation. And this gives an interesting detail - initially the model was developed in a version with a long wheelbase, and a shortened version was made additionally.

Test drive Audi A8: back to the future

Apparently, at this point, VW is convinced that the future belongs entirely to touchscreens. For this reason, almost everything in Audi's new flagship model is controlled by touch screens and touch fields.

In the opinion of the author of these lines, the control with the push / turn control is incredibly comfortable and safer, especially while driving, but on the other hand, it cannot be denied that the A8 has a certain taste for ergonomics. Voice control and quick commands make it much easier to use the most frequently used functions.

Futuristic yet cozy interior

Overall, for a large section of the audience, the idea of ​​two large black screens dominating the center console undoubtedly seems extremely modern. However, we are convinced that it would be better if the role of man in the relationship between man and machine was not overly ignored.

For example, a simple rotary knob for zooming in and out on nautical maps would work fine. The controls for air conditioning and seat adjustment can also be imagined, shall we say, in a slightly more intuitive way.

Test drive Audi A8: back to the future

At least the ignition button is in its usual place. In the case of the tested specimen, a three-liter TFSI is born, which bears the new designation "55". The V6 unit develops 340 hp. and like all other options in the A8 lineup, it is a mild hybrid. The latter, by the way, is almost imperceptible to the average driver in normal everyday use.

The A8 engines are equipped with a belt-driven starter generator that supplies electricity to the 48-volt vehicle electrical system. A 12 volt starter motor allows the engine to start normally, making the system more complex than an inline six Mercedesin which the starter-generator is located between the engine and the transmission, and there is no conventional starter.

Cultured petrol V6

However, most people are not so much interested in such details as in how this whole suite of assistive systems and comfort technologies actually works on the road. The 55 TFSI with its 340 horsepower beautifully introduces us to the world of the A8, works harmoniously, reacts spontaneously to acceleration and only becomes noisier with a sharp increase.

The 50 TDI is by far the most affordable version of the model overall. In direct competition, the diesel V6 has a more intrusive sound, but overall it is almost as perfect in terms of driving comfort as its gasoline counterpart. Much more fun is promised by the eight-cylinder engines expected a little later, as well as the top-end W12.

In terms of driving comfort, the new generation A8 promises to be a significant improvement over its predecessor. The standard air suspension with adaptive shock absorbers does an excellent job of overcoming almost all irregularities in the road.

Test drive Audi A8: back to the future

Just a little noise from the suspension and the less sophisticated rolling of the tires can impress the most demanding people. An active chassis in which the suspension of each wheel is individually tuned in real time is not yet available.

Dynamic four-wheel steering

The optional all-wheel drive (€ 1950) can do much more than just reduce the turning radius of the sedan's 5,20 meters to A4 levels. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn slightly in the opposite direction to the front.

It can be clearly seen from the outside, and it seems a little comical behind the wheel, but in the interests of truth, the effect is quite striking. This technology is linked to the operating modes selected by the Drive Select system and, as an option, provides an even sportier driving experience.

The small streak of serpentines along the test route was intended to show us how agile this massive limousine really is. There's no dispute - the steering suspensions and settings are impressive, and getting the car in the right direction is a real pleasure.

Unfortunately, a small traffic jam awaits us soon after this wonderful stretch. It would definitely be useful here to have the still missing button, which we mentioned at the beginning. But this will happen soon. We are looking forward to it!

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